Sunday, November 22, 2015

Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

Here is non-traditional idea for your Thanksgiving gathering.  I know that roasted turkey and all the traditional side dishes aren't enjoyed by or are practical for everyone. This lasagna recipe includes turkey but in the form of mild or hot turkey Italian sausage!


Adapted from an old Bon Appetit recipe, you may already know this wonderfully tasty lasagna.  The beauty of this recipe is that it can be completely prepared one or two days ahead of your gathering.  All you need to complete the meal is some delicious garlic bread and a favorite salad.  I love Ina's recipe for garlic bread, using a little less garlic and olive oil then she does. Today, I used Tuscan-seasoned olive oil for bread-dipping. 

My secret weapon for squeezing moisture out of the frozen spinach used in this recipe is this easy-to-use potato ricer!  It also great for squeezing moisture out of shredded zucchini - not to mention making perfect holiday mashed potatoes.  I also used my homemade tomato sauce that I made from my garden tomatoes, recipe here.  Feel free to substitute store-bought chunky marinara but homemade always tastes great. 

This is one easy Thanksgiving (or any time) dinner and your guests will be sure to love it!

You might recall in my last few posts, I've mentioned the mild fall we've been having. Not any more!  We had our first snow fall yesterday.  I hope all of you in the U.S. who may have been traveling to visit family for Thanksgiving weren't delayed by the weather in the Midwest.

A Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to all!

Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

Printable Recipe

Makes 8-12 servings, depending on serving size. 
Tip: Start a few days ahead by preparing the sauce first.  Assemble lasagna at least one day ahead. 


1 1/4 pounds sweet or spicy Italian turkey sausages, casings removed (I used sweet)

1-15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
9 uncooked lasagna noodles (Not No Boil Noodles!)
4 cups shredded mozzarella and provolone cheese (about 12 ounces)

For Tomato Sauce (makes 8 cups):

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 28-ounce cans Italian-style tomatoes
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes with added purée
1/2 cup dry red wine

To prepare tomato sauce, heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, oregano, basil, marjoram and crushed red pepper. Cover and cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; simmer gently, uncovered, until sauce thickens and measures 8 cups total, breaking up tomatoes with spoon and stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate.) You may also substitute chunky store-bought marinara sauce and add the seasonings you like to equal 8 cups of sauce. However, if you have time, the sauce is wonderful!

To prepare turkey sausage, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add sausages; sauté until brown, using fork to break up meat into coarse pieces, about 7 minutes. Add Spicy Tomato Sauce (You may reserve some sauce for passing at the table, if desired). Simmer 5 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 375°F.

Whisk ricotta, spinach, 1 cup grated Parmesan, eggs, cream, basil, oregano and pepper in large bowl. Set aside. Spoon 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Place 3 noodles over sauce in single layer. Spread 1 cup sauce over noodles. Spoon 1 cup ricotta mixture over sauce. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 cup shredded mozzarella/provolone over ricotta mixture. Repeat layering with 3 noodles, 1 cup sauce, 1 cup ricotta mixture, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella/provolone. Arrange remaining 3 noodles over cheese. Spoon 1 cup sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella/provolone over lasagna. Dollop remaining ricotta mixture atop lasagna in 12 equal spaces. Spoon 2 1/2 cups sauce around ricotta dollops. Tightly cover baking dish with foil. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Refrigerate until time to bake).

If lasagna was made ahead, remove from refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake lasagna 60 minutes; uncover and continue baking until noodles are tender and lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 30-40 minutes longer (I reduced the heat to 350). Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving. (Lasagna can be baked 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, cover and refrigerate. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F. oven about 45 minutes.)

My Note: Next time I would make more sauce and reserve at least 2 cups to use for passing at the table when serving. This sauce would freeze well.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Friday, November 13, 2015

Chili Blanco Especial

The photo above was taken Monday, November 11. It was sunny and 60F here in SE Wisconsin and my Tamara David Austin rose bush still has some beautiful last blooms.  Chilly and blustery the past two days but the forecast for this Sunday is sunny and 61F again! What an amazing fall it has been but I know the weather will soon return to more seasonal temperatures

My husband and I recently returned from a short, but wonderful, vacation to Georgia to visit dear friends. We had so much fun together cooking and playing golf. After a trip, it takes time to unpack, unwind and recoup, so a simple but satisfying dinner was needed when we returned.

A large rotisserie chickens provided enough for a simple meal the first night home and I saved the breast to make this white chicken chili the next day.  You can top the chili simply with diced avocado, or make it really 'especial' and sprinkle some Cheddar-Jack cheese on top with some freshly chopped parsley or cilantro for color (my parsley is still growing strong outdoors).  A squeeze of lime juice, sour cream, chopped black olives, salsa, etc., etc., etc.,  You get the idea!

Don't forget the tortillas! The original recipe calls for lining the soup bowl with a tortilla and adding the hot chili over the top.  I prefer scooping a spoonful of chili onto the tortilla for a delicious bite.  Of course this is totally optional but so delicious.

I originally published this recipe in 2009 - and the photos were not great.  So here it is again with a new look.  This time, I added some chopped kale for a healthy update.

Chili Blanco Especial

Note:  Beans need to be soaked overnight before preparing recipe. 

Serve 8

1 pound dry White Northern beans
5-1/4 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 7-ounce can diced green chilies (or 2 small 4 oz cans)
5 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1-3/4 cups chicken stock or broth (I use less for a thicker chili)
1 cup chopped kale (my addition - optional)
1 tablespoon diced jalapeño pepper (also optional)
8 flour tortillas

Place dried beans in a large bowl.  Add enough water to cover beans by at least two inches and soak overnight. 

The next day, in a large soup pot, combine beans, 5-1/4 cups chicken broth, garlic, onion, white pepper, salt, oregano, cumin and cloves. Simmer covered for about 5 hours, or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in green chilies, diced chicken and 1-3/4 cups chicken broth. Add chopped kale at this time, if using. For a spicier taste, add jalapeño. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. To serve, line each bowl with 1 flour tortilla or serve tortillas on the side. Add hot chili and serve with the suggested condiments for a very special chili.

Flavors are enhanced when this chili is made 1 day ahead.

Serve with any of the following condiments:

Diced Avocado
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Chopped black olives
Chunky salsa or diced tomato
Sour cream
Wedge of lime
Chopped cilantro or parsley